CLICK HERE3730 Frankfort Ave
2020 Marks our 20th year in business in Louisville…and also our last. The following are some reflections looking back as written by studio owner Shawna Spellman.
October 2000. I opened my hot yoga business in Louisville. It was a lovely location in Crescent Hill. I had less than a $30,000 budget including a credit card that I maxed out. It was called Bikram Yoga Crescent Hill and I was 27 years old. We taught exclusively Bikram’s 90-minute series. It was hugely successful. By August 2001, it was operating debt-free.
Then September 11th, 2001 happened. The world was shaken and the economy tanked. The future was uncertain. I lost ALL of my private corporate accounts. Yes, the economy was so strong prior to that, I had several corporations paying for their staff to take private group classes! Many even bought large corporate packages for their staff to use for scheduled classes. Those accounts covered my entire overhead.
How would we recover? We did!
After my lease expired we moved to a larger location. Shortly thereafter, though, the space above us had a fire—toxic smoke & water damage ruined our brand new location forcing us to shut down, regroup & move again.
How would we recover? We did!
We settled in Saint Matthews, opened an additional location in downtown Louisville (which is still my favorite location to date — Thanks to George & Eric). We closed it two years later, eventually signing a lease at the Vogue studio location in May 2010.
The entire second floor was a concrete slab—no walls, no Coals Pizza, no Chiropractor office, no yoga or wellness center. Just a vision and a lot of tenacity. I was in the process of breaking ties with the Bikram name. I wanted freedom from Bikram’s tyranny and the opportunity to create my own brand. I wanted that space and nothing would stop me!
Heat Yoga & Wellness was created, and we opened in October of 2010, our tenth year in business. It was a huge success! Three years later the buildout was paid for and it was again debt-free.
In January of 2020, we completed a total facelift—new painting, fixtures, and brand new premium yoga flooring. Still operating debt-free, the improvements were paid in full. The future was bright.
February 2020 BC (before covid), we had a fantastic & fun staff meeting, collaborating on plans for the future and for our upcoming 20th year anniversary! We squeezed in for a great group photo, hugging hello & goodbye! Even though most of us have worked together for decades, sometimes we go years without seeing one another due to the nature of our business.
I left with my heart full. All of those beautiful ladies are special to me in a unique and personal way. Some have been with me from the beginning. Each is like a piece to a puzzle that fits together perfectly and makes things flow
Then March 16th, 2020. We voluntarily closed our doors after the 5:00 pm class due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The overwhelming fear and concern of how I could keep my beloved staff & clients safe from this killer? Anyone who has ever shared a great sweat sesh with us knows there is a lot more than good energy flying around those hot rooms. Unknown bodily fluids are an hourly norm! Not to mention the showers and locker rooms where everyone drops their sweat-soaked towels and mats to shower before leaving.
Things were changing quickly and I had never felt such uncertainty. After the last class on Monday, I stayed late and scrubbed every inch of the studio with new, harsh cleaners that were CDC approved. For the first time ever I wore gloves.
My husband and I reside on a small horse farm in Southern Indiana, 50 miles from Louisville. I cried the whole way home. The responsibility of this was like nothing I had ever experienced.
Tuesday, March 17th, the governor of Kentucky officially mandated we all close our doors for business and shelter in our homes. How would we recover?
The days turned to weeks. The weeks are turning to months. Still no good answers on when we might be able to reopen our “nonessential” businesses in Kentucky. When and if we are allowed to reopen what does that look like in the “ new future?” Social distancing, stringent and harsh cleaning protocols, testing, temperature checks, and can you even do Hot Yoga wearing a mask?!
I have attributed much of my success over the years to being a good decision-maker. The decision to not take on debt with such an uncertain economy is an easy one. The ability to reopen and recreate a business after months of no cash flow is impossible. The ability to keep myself, my staff, and my clients safe from an extremely contagious and deadly virus feels impossible. We are not front line workers. Yoga teachers work as contract labor. Many are underinsured or have no health insurance at all.
After much consideration, I have decided we will not reopen our Louisville location. It is financial suicide for me either way. I value human life, however, over anything monetary. Our health is our only true wealth in life.
I am eternally grateful for the friendships and relationships I have made over the last 20 years. I have felt nothing but love and support from my hometown community. I appreciate the opportunity to teach you and facilitate beautiful spaces for you to sweat, stretch, breathe, and meditate over the years. Many small businesses don’t survive ten years, and most never reach 20 of success!
Thanks, Louisville, it’s been a hell of a good run. It literally took a global pandemic to bring this to an end!
Now, this is the part where I ride off in the sunset with my cowboy.
Peace & Love on behalf of myself and Rob,